Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Study Finds Green Buildings Improve Cognitive Function

The study was conducted in the environmentally controlled
Total Indoor Environmental 
Quality Laboratory at the
Syracuse Center of Excellence in 
Environmental and
Energy Systems in Syracuse, NY, and 
took place over the
course of 6 workdays across a 2-week 
period. (PRNewsFoto/
United Technologies)
A new study found that improved indoor environmental quality doubled participants’ scores on cognitive function tests. Conducted by researchers at Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Health and the Global Environment, SUNY Upstate Medical University, and Syracuse University, the study found that employees’ cognitive performance scores averaged 101% higher in green building environments with enhanced ventilation, compared to a conventional building environment.

“We know green buildings conserve natural resources, minimize environmental impacts and improve the indoor environment,” says John Mandyck, chief sustainability officer with United Technologies, which provided primary support for the study. “These results show they can also become important human resource tools for all indoor environments where cognitive abilities are critical to productivity, learning and safety.”

Researchers tested 24 participants’ cognitive performance in nine functional domains (i.e., basic, applied and focused activity levels; task orientation; crisis response; information seeking; information usage; breadth of approach; and strategy). Laboratory conditions simulated conventional and green buildings, as well as green buildings with enhanced ventilation.

Cognitive test scores showed the largest improvements in crisis response, information usage and strategy:
  • Crisis response scores were 97% higher for the green environment and 131% higher for the green environment with enhanced ventilation and lower CO levels compared to the conventional environment.
  • Information usage scores for green and enhanced green environments were 172% and 299% higher than in the conventional environment, respectively.
  • For strategy, green and enhanced green scores were 183% and 288% higher than the conventional environment.
Read more about and download the study from Harvard’s Center for Health and the Global Environment.